Monday, January 30, 2006

Dog ears and C.S. Lewis

Tess is a mutt – a combination, I think, of every possible type of dog you can imagine. Blessed with a generally good disposition, she is not terribly smart, even for a dog. Not long ago, Tess became clearly distressed by itching ears. She clawed and scratched and pushed the side of her head across the carpet. So I held Tess still as my wife squirted some medication into the dog’s ears. Tess was not pleased.

And that made me think of C.S. Lewis.

His book “The Problem of Pain” gives us an analogy of the care of a dog and God’s care of us all. A good pet owner doesn’t let the dog merely follow its natural impulses. Instead, the owner washes it, house-trains it and teaches it to behave. While that’s happening, the dog might question the “goodness” of the owner, Lewis wrote. But after it’s all finished, the dog is introduced to a world of affection, loyalty and – my favorite part of Lewis’ analogy – “comforts entirely beyond its animal destiny ….”

Comforts entirely beyond its animal destiny. Those are comforts that the struggling puppy cannot even conceive. Yet the comforts are real and available.

Lewis, who had his own share of personal pain, wasn’t trying to dismiss human suffering or tribulation. He wasn’t suggesting that people are really like dogs. What he did suggest: Submitting to God’s care was not automatic or easy in his 1940 era, and it is certainly no easier now.

Was my stroke part of God's care? I'm not a big believer of coincidences or random events – so yes, I believe so. To what end? That will be unknown until I see the day that Lewis described: Comforts entirely beyond my own animal destiny.

No comments: